Is it such a big deal that the City of Trail has joined countless other communities in banning smoking in public spaces?
I guess that depends on who you ask.
Personally I’ve never been bothered by smoke unless it’s blown directly in my face. But in the big picture, Trail is simply doing what a lot of communities have already concluded – healthy initiatives beget healthy attitudes.
I don’t believe this is some type of “social engineering,” as some claim.
Rather I think the government is taking a lead, as they often do, in promoting a healthy environment in their respective communities.
Attitudes don’t change overnight but in this case the trend has been growing over the last decade.
Remember when you were allowed to smoke in hospitals, airplanes, restaurants, bingo halls and bars? Despite the backlash that businesses would suffer and anarchy would prevail, haven’t those changes been an improvement?
While many in my age group smoked in our teen years, very few of my daughter’s friends took up smoking.
Is that because they chose not to or has the message of the consequences of smoking taken root and embedded themselves into their lifestyle? Either way, hasn’t that been a good thing?
I like to think back to my youth and the days of travelling in the car with no seat belt on, mom or dad smoking and someone even tossing a gum wrapper out the window.
Nowadays the thought of any of those things happening would be met with derision and scolding, especially the littering.
Granted people still litter but the image of garbage tossed out the window of a moving vehicle or simply dropped on the sidewalk are few and far between.
Those changes haven’t come thanks to fines and enforcement but rather continued messaging about the harms and abuse to the environment.
The same goes with those anti-idling signs you see around the province. I haven’t seen anyone ticketed, especially around a drive-thru, yet by simply seeing that sign it has reminded me on many occasions that I can easily shut my vehicle off for five minutes rather than leave it running. Now I shut the engine off even in a drive-thru.
Again, I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.
The Trail smoking bylaw doesn’t prohibit smoking in your home or in your car, they’re simply asking that people don’t smoke where other people are gathered.
Music in the Park is a prime example. I don’t recall seeing anyone smoking around the crowd during the event but if there’s no rule stopping someone, how can we justify asking someone not to light up next to you while you’re trying to enjoy a splendid summer evening’s worth of music?
That isn’t to say the city needs to deploy an army of bylaw officers to enforce the rule. It’s simply the right thing most people will do.
The Village of Fruitvale brought in a similar bylaw a few years ago and so far no backlash, no fines, no problems. Castlegar has a bylaw in place, which includes a $100 fine, and Salmo and Rossland councils have also discussed the issue. In total there are almost 70 communities across the province, 18 of those in the Interior Health region, that have adopted smoking bylaws.
I don’t remember ever being told I must shovel my sidewalk or I’ll be fined, but I do it because people use the sidewalk in front of my house and I don’t mind the responsibility of keeping it clean.
I see the signs that tell me I could be fined if I don’t pick up my dog’s poop but it’s the free bags offered that remind me to grab one and pick up that doggy-do simply because everyone, including me, hates stepping in it.
These initiatives seem like common sense ones to me, not some type of Big Brother-inspired rules to force me into a certain way of thinking and living.
If that was the case I would accuse the City of Trail of trying to convince me walking is good by building a beautiful pedestrian bridge over the Columbia River.
Damn those city officials. How dare they give me this urge to walk over it.
Next thing I know I’ll get healthier and not even realize it.
Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times